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EU on the right track towards a circular economy: report

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EU on the right track towards a circular economy: report

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(BRUSSELS) - The European Union is making good progress on the road to a climate-neutral, competitive circular economy, the EU Commission declared Monday as it published a report on implementation of its 'Circular Economy Action Plan'.

Under the action plan, launched in 2015, all 54 actions have been delivered or are being implemented, says the report on its implementation. This, says the Commission, will 'contribute to boost Europe's competitiveness, modernise its economy and industry to create jobs, protect the environment and generate sustainable growth'.

The report presents the main results of implementing the action plan and sketches out challenges to paving the way towards a climate-neutral, competitive circular economy where pressure on natural and freshwater resources as well as ecosystems is minimised.

The findings of the report are to be discussed during the annual Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference taking place in Brussels on 6 and 7 March.

The report is very encouraging, said EC vice-president Jyrki Katainen: "It shows that Europe is on the right track in creating investment, jobs and new businesses. The future potential for sustainable growth is huge and Europe is indeed the best place for an environmentally-friendly industry to grow."

The report says that implementing the plan has accelerated the transition towards a circular economy in Europe, which in turn has helped putting the EU back on a path of job creation. In 2016, sectors relevant to the circular economy employed more than four million workers, a 6% increase compared to 2012.

Circularity has opened up new business opportunities, given rise to new business models and developed new markets, domestically and outside the EU. In 2016, circular activities such as repair, reuse or recycling generated almost €147 billion in value added while accounting for around €17.5 billion worth of investments.

The EU Strategy for Plastics in a Circular Economy is the first EU-wide policy framework adopting a material-specific lifecycle approach to integrate circular design, use, reuse and recycling activities into plastics value chains. The strategy sets out a vision with all plastic packaging placed on the EU market reusable or recyclable by 2030.

The result of a voluntary pledging campaign on recycled plastics is that 70 companies have made pledges, expected to increase the market for recycled plastics by at least 60% by 2025. The report points to a gap between supply and demand for recycled plastics, with regard to which the Commission has launched the Circular Plastics Alliance of key industry stakeholders supplying and using recycled plastics.

The rules on Single-Use Plastics items and fishing gear, addressing the ten most found items on EU beaches place the EU at the forefront of the global fight against marine litter. The measures include a ban of certain single-use products made of plastic (such as straws and cutlery) when alternatives are available and of oxo-degradable plastic, and propose actions for others such as consumption reduction targets, product design requirements and Extended Producers Responsibility schemes.

The rules on Single-Use Plastics items and fishing gear, addressing the ten most found items on EU beaches place the EU at the forefront of the global fight against marine litter. The measures include a ban of certain single-use products made of plastic (such as straws and cutlery) when alternatives are available and of oxo-degradable plastic, and propose actions for others such as consumption reduction targets, product design requirements and Extended Producers Responsibility schemes.

To stimulate investment, the Circular Economy Finance Support Platform has produced recommendations to improve the bankability of circular economy projects, coordinate funding activities and share good practices. The platform will work with the European Investment Bank on providing financial assistance and exploiting synergies with the action plan on financing sustainable growth.

To modernise waste management systems in the Union a revised waste legislative framework entered into force in July 2018. This includes, among others, new ambitious recycling rates, clarified legal status of recycled materials, strengthened waste prevention and waste management measures, including for marine litter, food waste, and products containing critical raw materials.

The Circular Economy Action Plan was aimed to "closing the loop" of product lifecycles through greater recycling and re-use, and bringing benefits for both the environment and the economy. The plans were to help extract the maximum value and use from all raw materials, products and waste, fostering energy savings and reducing greenhouse gas emissions and would be supported financially by ESIF funding, Horizon 2020, the EU structural funds and investments in the circular economy at national level.

A full state of play of the implementation of the action plan is presented in an accompanying Staff Working Document.

Questions and Answers

Report on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action Plan

Staff working document with details and references for the 54 actions that were listed in the action plan


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